Looking back at the earlier photos, it's easy to see how far we've come since the start of the year. The photo on the left was taken at an inter-regional training session in November, around two months after all us newbies joined, while the photo on the right was taken at Whittington, our first large show of the season (and the only one where there's a good photo of us together in kit). In that time we've all learnt how to craft so many different things, from clothing and leatherwork to weapons and scribing. We've even become relatively good at combat, although you barely notice the gradual changes until you face someone newer to re-enactment than you are. In a way I'm looking forward most to training with the new newbies this week, as they'll be at the same level as we were when we joined - it'll be an interesting comparison to see what a year's training does for your fighting ability...
Over the course of the year, I've definitely come to appreciate far more the work that goes on behind the scenes so that shows come out the other end. What might look like a simple tunic to a member of the audience has had hours of hemming to make it look that good. So have the braies that we wear under everything else, and they're never even seen by the audience! There's also the time spent in training to make sure the combat is as safe as it can be, considering we're swinging steel weapons at each other. Over the course of the year I'd (very roughly) estimate I was at around 25 training sessions, which works out at somewhere around 125 hours of training overall. But it's definitely all worth it, because when we do get to show season, it all looks brilliant and the audience love it. I can recall multiple shows where the audience have been genuinely enthusiastic despite the rain and dismal weather.
And that's it, a year of re-enactment concluded, and a new one just begun. I'll be back again with another article soon, in which I'll be taking a look at some research I've been doing on 12th century wax seals. Until then, thank you for reading, and I hope you found it interesting.